Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic announced today that after 20 seasons and 1,378 games with the same organization, he has played his final game in the NHL.
“After having the privilege of playing for 20 years, I’m leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories and a sense of accomplishment,” said Sakic. “The game has given me more than I ever dreamed of, and for that I am truly grateful.”
Sakic wore the ‘C’ as team captain for 16 consecutive seasons (17 seasons overall), making him the second-longest serving captain in NHL history. Sakic led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles (1996, 2001), which included the city of Denver’s first major professional sports championship in 1996. The Burnaby, B.C., native captured the franchise’s first Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2001, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1996, earned the Lester B. Pearson Award (NHLPA MVP) and Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship) in 2001 and was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team on three occasions (2001, 2002 and 2004).
Sakic, 40, retires as the eighth-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,641 career points. He sits 14th all-time in goals (625) and 11th in assists (1,016). Only four players have ever recorded more points with a single franchise: Gordie Howe (1809) and Steve Yzerman (1755) with Detroit, Mario Lemieux with Pittsburgh (1723) and Wayne Gretzky with Edmonton (1669). Sakic ranks seventh all-time in both playoff goals (84) and playoff points (188-tied), and holds the NHL record with eight postseason overtime goals.
“On behalf of KSE, the Colorado Avalanche and hockey fans around the world, I would personally like to thank Joe Sakic for the countless unforgettable memories he provided us on and off the ice over the past 20 years,” said Avalanche owner E. Stanley Kroenke. “Joe represents all that is good about not only the Avalanche organization but professional sports in general. His leadership, sportsmanship and respect for the game of hockey are legendary.
“I have had the privilege of being associated with some of the world’s greatest athletes, and Joe’s record-setting accomplishments on the ice and his uncompromising commitment to community causes place him in a very elite group. We wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”
Selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round (15th overall) of the 1987 Entry Draft, Sakic is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals (205), short-handed goals (32) and game-winning goals (86). He scored 30 or more goals in a franchise-record nine different seasons and surpassed the 20-goal mark in 17 of his 20 campaigns. He is also the club’s all-time leader in playoff games (172), goals, assists (104), points, PPG (27), SHG (4) and GWG (19).
With Sakic as team captain, the Avalanche/Nordiques captured an NHL-record nine consecutive division championships from 1995 to 2003. In addition to its two Stanley Cup titles, the Avalanche also won two Presidents’ Trophies and made six appearances in the Western Conference Finals during that time span.
“We celebrate the brilliant career of our captain, the face of our franchise for the past two decades,” said Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix. “Joe’s contributions have been invaluable and his achievements speak for themselves. I find myself very much like a hockey fan, filled with a tremendous sense of satisfaction which comes from having had the opportunity to know him as a person, to have watched him play and simply appreciate him as a complete professional.
“He is the perfect example of outstanding integrity and with his tremendous sense of honor he led us to our success with his amazing consistency.”
Sakic recorded 15 career hat tricks, second most in team history, and also scored two in the playoffs. He was a perfect 5-for-5 on penalty shot attempts (4-for-4 in regular season) and was 7-for-21 (33.3%) in shootouts.
Sakic, who made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, 1988 against the Hartford Whalers, was selected to 13 NHL All-Star Games, making 12 appearances. He holds the All-Star Game record for career assists with 16, and ranks third on the All-Star points list with 22. Sakic was named MVP of the 2004 All-Star Game and captained the 2007 Western Conference squad.
A three-time Olympian with Team Canada (1998, 2002, 2006), Sakic was the MVP of the 2002 Olympics after lifting Canada to its first gold medal in 50 years. He captained the Canadian Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Games. Sakic also helped Canada win gold at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the 1994 IIHF World Championship and 1988 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Prior to turning pro, Sakic was the 1988 Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year after leading the Western Hockey League with 78 goals and 160 points in 64 games with Swift Current.
Off the ice, Sakic was the recipient of the 2007 NHL Foundation Player Award in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community.